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by Susanne Alleyn
St Martin's Minotaur, March 2006
304 pages
ISBN: 0312343639

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Aristide Ravel is a freelance undercover agent, who frequently assists the police with their more serious investigations. Ravel does not quite fit into the post-Revolution world. France is changing from the France it once was. The culture is changing, the politics are changing and society itself is slowly changing. The events of the Revolution still have resonance in this book.

One example of this is people's disgust with Ravel. Being an undercover agent is too much like being a spy and spies have a bad reputation due to their actions during the Revolution. In addition, Ravel's clothing is out of style and his family history works against him. Somehow, despite all of these things, Ravel has the ability to solve crimes and help keep the streets as safe as possible.

In GAME OF PATIENCE, there is a double murder that Ravel must solve. The victims are Celie Montereau and Louis Saint-Ange. Celie was being blackmailed by Saint-Ange and was murdered in his apartment. The most obvious place to look for a killer is in Saint-Ange's background. It is unlikely that Celie is the first person he has blackmailed and one of them most likely killed him.

The first part of this hypothesis is quickly proven, but all of his victims have alibis for the time of the murders. Ravel must start investigating Celie's background as he begins to think she was the intended target. With the assistance of Celie's very bitter friend Rosalie Clement, Ravel is able to piece together the real person not just the image her parents have of her.

Ravel also finds a murder suspect, but still lacks some necessary evidence to convict him. Unfortunately, he is in for a surprise. Ravel is forced to rely on his own sense of justice and humanity in order to solve this double murder.

Aristide Ravel is an interesting character. He is obviously not a happy person, yet he feels the need to hold others up to his sense of justice. By forcing others to match his ideals, Ravel has found a way for himself to survive in a world that seems alien to his own sense of reality.

In GAME OF PATIENCE, Susanna Alleyn does a very good job of capturing both the fear and the freedom that post-Revolution Parisian society felt. The Horrors are not too far in the past to be forgotten but there is a hint of optimism that guides society. By focusing her story on Aristide Ravel and Rosalie Clement, Alleyn is able to demonstrate how outsiders view the city. She also implies that as neither character is truly happy in this new world, they might be the only two who can truly understand what is happening to society and the world.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, May 2006

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